Are you a bit of a dare devil? Fancy doing something that gives you a bit of an adrenaline rush? We have a feeling we’ve got just the thing for you…
The ocean – It’s vast, mysterious, untamed and somehow always manages to spark our sense of adventure. So if you love a survivor tale, cage diving with Great White Sharks in Port Lincoln (on South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula) will sure have you waxing lyrical back on land.
The scene for this remarkable voyage was set by the crisp seas of the Southern Ocean and my adventure started when I was picked up at 6am by Calypso Star Charters. A group of slightly terrified adventure seekers came along for the ride. As our boat neared the diving site, we all joked nervously, “I better call me Dad to say goodbye” Natalie from London exclaimed, “I think I’ll poop myself” squealed Kate from Boston, “Can’t wait for some one-on-one time” I lied.
The Neptune Islands (a breeding ground for the protected New Zealand Fur Sea) is where the three hour cruise concludes. The New Zealand Fur Seal also happens to be a preferred snack of the great white sharks, who are situated at the mouth of the Spencer Gulf. The islands are a Conservation Park and this pristine location has visibility of up to 20 metres all year round and is also highly untouched, making it arguably the best site in the world for shark cage diving.
Once we’d arrived, our skipper dumped gills and tuna blood into the ocean, in order to start attracting the sharks. For 10 years Andrew has been working in the shark business and he still loves his job, “No day is the same, you never know what you will see, and I’ve seen sharks jump four metres clear of the water”. He tells me, ‘’No one is more excited to see the first shark than me’’ and that the biggest he’s seen was six and a half metres! We spotted a shark gliding in out and out of view within 10 minutes. He lured the shark back to the boat by drawing bait of a wire towards the cage. We watched in awe as after slowly edging closer and closer, the shark charged from below, clamped its jaws around the bait and swallowed a chunk of meat the size of a poodle in one effortless gulp.
Andrew then invited us into the cage. We geared ourselves up in wetsuits and goggles before he attached weights to us so that we would sink to the bottom of the cage. Getting in the cage felt like walking the plank. As you climb down the ladder you realise your fears and the lid is then shut behind you. You’re unable to talk due to breathing from a regulator. You can only listen to the rhythmic bashing of the waves on the boat and the voice inside your head. Careful not to let even a pinky finger poke out of the cage, along with five other divers, like an egg on the boil, I bobbed up and down in unity. The anticipation was gripping.
Andrew, approximately five metres above us, pours a bucket of blood directly beside the cage. The blood heightened the anticipation, as like a cloud of smoke, it slowly washed over the group and turned the water a crimson red. There’s no predicting what you see next. Materialising silently like a ghost and appearing majestic and powerfully, a metre a time, a nose emerges from the blood stained water. First the head with jet black eyes, then the ash grey body, and then the tail.
I noticed a little pupil within the blackness of its eyes, staring right back at me, as it swoops past, only an arm length away from the cage. The curiosity was intoxicating. As it brushed past me a metre away, those eyes seemed to invite me to touch its pristine scales.
Then the shark sailed off into the blue. Head first, body next, and lastly its tail. It left almost as quickly as it appeared.
Once we were back on land, Andrew explains that Great White Sharks are still greatly misunderstood and that to assist studies into their behaviour, his crew record the day’s activities. Most scientists now believe they are highly inquisitive and intelligent, but there is still a lot we don’t know about these amazing creatures. Their way of life and reason for their migrations remains a mystery and no one has ever seen them give birth.
Seeing these magnificent Great White Sharks eye-to-eye only makes you appreciate them more. Cage diving with them in South Australia is without comparison.
So if you want to experience this once-in-a-lifetime adventure, stay in Port Lincoln with YHA from just $22AUD per night.